Tyshawn Hunter rolled through his final drill Wednesday and went directly to the exercise bike. The Central Islip senior wanted to shed a few pounds before wrestling practice ended.
“I ate a little too much last night,” he laughed. “Now, I need to work it off.”
As Hunter wheeled his way through the final 30 minutes of his workout in the heat of the Central Islip wrestling room, coach Brad Brzozinski went over and shared a moment with him and the two nodded in agreement.
“It’s guys like Tyshawn that keep me coaching,” said Brzozinski, who’s coached 22 years. “He’s made great strides socially, in the classroom and in the wrestling room. We change lives down here in this sport. We help kids turn their lives around and realize their dreams. Tyshawn Hunter is a perfect example of that. I just told him how proud I was to be his coach.”
Hunter is making all sorts of strides.
He captured the 138-pound title in the Suffolk I Tournament last weekend when he upset top-seeded Steven Dorman of Sachem East, 8-5. The stunning win came on the heels of Hunter’s 15-0 loss to Dorman during the regular season.
“No one saw that one coming,” Hunter said. “He’s [Dorman] an excellent wrestler. And I don’t want to take anything away from his first win against me, but I was wrestling with a knee injury and he beat me good. I trained really hard for him.”
For his accomplishment, Hunter was named Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. On top of his big wrestling win was the announcement that he’d made the school’s academic honor roll.
“I walked into the wrestling room and all he wanted to talk about was the honor roll,” said Lawrence Phillips, the director of athletics at Central Islip. “He’s made an amazing turnaround. We’re really proud of him.”
Brzozinski and his brother Rick, revived the Central Islip wrestling program in 1997-98 after it had been disbanded for two years.
“We came here and taught life skills and convinced kids why wrestling could change their lives,” Rick Brzozinski said. “Once you wrestle everything else in life will come easier — because wrestling is such a commitment and it’s hard.”
Brzozinski said Hunter has been a work in progress for three years in and out of the classroom.
“Tyshawn needed to focus on his goals and stay away from the bad influences around him in his life,” Brad Brzozinski said. “And he got himself into some trouble last year and missed our league tournament. And that really bothered him. But he got serious about his wrestling this year and winning the League I title opened his eyes that anything is possible.”